MANILA, Philippines - Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. believes Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile and Senators Ramon Revilla Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada can still run in the 2016 polls despite the plunder case against them in the Sandiganbayan.
“Everybody is innocent unless there is a final conviction,” he said.
Brillantes said the three senators would be disqualified from running only if they are convicted with finality.
“They can still run – and they know that – for any position they want even if they are in jail,” he said.
Brillantes said then Zamboanga del Norte Rep. Romeo Jalosjos was able to run for Congress despite his conviction of rape and six counts of acts of lasciviousness on Nov. 16, 2001.
“That is already an old doctrine,” he said.
“I don’t see any problem as long as they are not convicted with finality.”
Estrada had announced that he is willing to be a running mate of Vice President Jejomar Binay in 2016.
Revilla is reportedly being considered as the standard bearer of Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats in 2016.
Estrada, Enrile and Revilla are now on their second and last terms at the Senate.
Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II said yesterday people against whom there is evidence in the alleged misuse of pork barrel funds wbe charged regardless of their political affiliation.
“The point is we are just following evidence,” he said in Filipino.
“We assure the people that whatever coat you wear, evidence would prevail when charges are filed,” he said.
Speaking to reporters in Camp Crame yesterday afternoon, Roxas said all the records of Janet Lim-Napoles and Benhur Luy are with the Department of Justice.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has announced that another batch of cases will be referred to the Office of the Ombudsman, he added.
Roxas said President Aquino has a clear policy, posture and directive that all charges must be based on evidence.
“How can it be labeled as political persecution when this all started as a misunderstanding between Janet Lim-Napoles and Benhur Luy on alleged serious illegal detention, but names eventually cropped up?” he said.
“It is wrong to say that from the very beginning the Aquino administration targeted these personalities.”
Roxas said the Philippine National Police (PNP) will act professionally once the Sandiganbayan issues the warrant of arrest against Enrile, Estrada and Revilla.
“There is no intent to embarrass or demolish the dignity of the people involved in the case,” he said.
He had inspected the possible detention center at Camp Crame for high profile personalities linked to the pork barrel scam, Roxas said.
Chief Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac, PNP public information director, said the Custodial Center has a capacity for 130 detainees, and that only 70 inmates are there at present.
Construction inside the Custodial Center has been completed, he added.
Sindac said the international standard on Human Rights Law had prescribed the 3 meters x 3 meters size of the 56 detention cells.
Each detention cell has a double-deck bed, mattress, basic toilet, water faucet, pail and dipper, he added.
Roxas said the repair of the detention center is ready to accept the 54 people linked to the pork barrel fund scam.
However, the detention of 54 would be temporary, and that the Sandiganbayan would rule on their disposition, he added.
Multi-sectoral groups have called on the administration to prosecute all those involved in the pork barrel fund scam, regardless of political affiliation. – With Cecille Suerte Felipe